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Questions and Answers

The following questions and answers come from the High Country hi-tech Ask-an-Expert web board. This web board closed one month after the field trip and a selection of posts were then moved to this page.

In one of the videos on pest control, we saw a place where some black fronted terns were. Where exactly on the Waitaki was that please? Where can we find out more about the black fronted terns on the Waitaki riverbed?

Hi Ursula, of the remaining 5,000 black-fronted terns, 60 percent nest on the rivers and wetlands of the Mackenzie Basin. In the 2008–09 breeding season 762 black-fronted terns were counted in the Tekapo and Ohau riverbeds. At present they are declining in numbers because of loss of suitable habitat and high levels of predation. So in the video you were near Twizel in the Mackenzie Basin, close to the Ohau River. It is estimated that another 10 percent of the tern population breed in the lower Waitaki Valley riverbed.
From Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.

Did the dog named Billy Joe like Walt? Do you think he knew Walt was a native bird?

Hi William, ah good question. In truth Billy Joe was a very well trained dog and even though Walt didn't smell like a normal pukeko he still was nice to him because his owner told him to be! Dogs work a lot on smell and if well trained will do exactly what their owner tells them to.

Billy Joe was adorable and he did seem to take a liking to Walt.
From Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.

How many drones are used in the Mackenzie Basin and what other things are they used for?

Hi Sean, Drones are used mostly for aerial surveillance by land owners such as farmers and surveyors, and also for recreation. Because they are easily purchased without a license no one knows how many there are. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are putting together a 'regulatory framework' that will have rules about how they are used. But even then we might not know how many there are unless you need a license to use them.

From the LEARNZ office.

How many thar are there in the Mackenzie Basin and how do you know?

Hi Najie, I'm not sure any body knows how many thar there are in the Mackenzie Basin but it's estimated there are about 10,000 in New Zealand. Most of them are in the central south island from the Rakaia River to Lake Hawea. 

So you might like to look at a map and see how much of that area (Rakaia River to Lake Hawea) the Mackenzie Basin takes up. Then come up with your own guess.

Let me know your guess!
From the LEARNZ office.

Have you seen any sheep and what is their wool like? Is it different from other sheep in other prts of New Zealand? 

Hi Jongyoon, Yes we have seen some sheep. They were called merino sheep. They are quite different from sheep in other parts of New Zealand. Their wool is very fine and their skin is quite wrinkled. The boy sheep (rams) have very big curly horns!
From the LEARNZ office.

How much rain do they get in the Mackenzie Basin? How strong can the wind get?

Hi Ursula, The Mackenzie Basin is in a rain shadow area that means that the westerly wind drops most of its rain on the mountains and there isn't much left to fall on the eastern Mackenzie Basin. They get 600mm a year. How much rain does Christchurch get each year?
From the LEARNZ office.

How exactly does a continuous GPS station work and how can it be so exact? What are the other continuous GPS stations in the area? How far apart do they need to be to work?

Hi Jacob, To get an idea of gradual and constant movement (eg the movement of tectonic plates) you need a constant GPS signal rather than an occasional observation. Continuous GPS stations take observations continuously. This site has the NZ stations listed. http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Our-Science/Earth-Science/Plate-Tectonics/Mea...
From the LEARNZ office.

What kind of mathematics do you need to accurately create a map?

Hi Shawn, The process of map making is really interesting. 

Check out this LEARNZ video http://geospatial143.learnz.org.nz/geospatial143/assets/videos/gs143-d02...  You will see that aerial photos are the basis for making maps.

To be a cartographer (someone who makes maps) you probably need to be OK at maths!
From the LEARNZ office.

What other satellites are there besides the ones we (the general public) use? eg Are there different ones for the military?

Hi Rebecca, One other satellite you might have seen is the moon! It's a natural satellite. Other un-natural satellites include the international space station, military and civilian earth observation satellites, communications satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

Humans have also placed satellites around the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Vesta, Eros, Ceres, and the Sun!
From the LEARNZ office.

Have you seen any insects yet and where did you see them?

Hi Jongyoon, I am in Dunedin at the moment and in a few hours I will drive up to Twizel to begin the High Country hi-tech field trip so I can't really comment on the insects that I'll definitely see. I might see wētā, carabid beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies and moths and maybe native cockroaches.
From Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.